Nonfiction writers are often encouraged to write from a place of expertise or knowledge to establish their niche and build trust with their readers. This often applies to writers who work in a particular field, such as therapists or educators, or those who write about a particular topic that requires training or education to explore fully.
However, many of us write from our own experiences in the form of memoirs, personal essays, or self-help books. Do we need to be experts on a particular topic too? Author and therapist Aundi Kolber believes we already have all the expertise we need to write our personal stories. Aundi says, “It’s important for writers to know that ultimately you are the expert on your experience.”
What does it mean to be an expert on your experience? Let’s dive in!
No one else is an expert on your experience. Your story is yours alone, and you get to decide how much or how little you share with your reader. Asking yourself how comfortable you feel sharing is important if your story involves other people or if it’s a particularly difficult story. You are the expert on how much of your story is appropriate for public consumption.
When to share your story is ultimately up to you. If you are writing about a challenging topic, it’s important to ask yourself if you have fully healed from the experience before you share it. Writing publicly means your work is open to edits, criticism, and myriad reader responses. If you aren’t prepared to receive constructive criticism from editors or a reader response that doesn’t respect your story, it may not be time to share. You are an expert on how you will respond under pressure when sharing your story.
How will you share your story? Are you ready to broadcast it online for anyone to read? Maybe you’re ready to reach a larger audience, and you feel comfortable pitching your work to a magazine or website and promoting it on social media. Perhaps sharing with your email subscribers is the best place to start because you share a closer connection with these readers. You are the expert on your readers and how you’d like to reach them.
Be confident in your ability to choose the what, when, and how of sharing your work. Ultimately, you’re responsible for sharing your story in a way that allows you to be the expert of your experience.
Still struggling to see yourself as the expert of your experiences? Aundi shares helpful tips from her perspective as both a writer and therapist in her conversation with hope*writers. Click here for free access to the entire conversation and take one step toward balancing the art of writing with the business of publishing.